Journey to Parliament Tea Camp

I hope I can be forgiven for being one of those people who really never understood how government and parliament effect us and how we affect it.  Day to day living and family life always seemed to get in the way to what seemed to me to be a removed organisation far far away in the Palace of Westminster.  However a few events recently have really given me an insight and opened my eyes to the possibilities all due to the Parliament Outreach team starting to think about social media.


hoc2As some of you may know  I and a handful of other nurses were fortunate to be invited to tweet from the health select committee earlier this year … Which I won’t go into any great detail about as you can read about it on the WeBlog or my own post Tweeting From Westminster … However suffice to say it was the start of a journey for me that has led to this road of potential and possibilities.


ptcFollowing the success of tweeting from the Health Committee and some other projects the Parliament Outreach Team invited WeNurses to the first meeting of Parliament Tea Camp – #ParliTeaCamp where a group of enthusiastic communities including – Money Saving Expert Forum, Netmums, Our Diabetes, Army Rumour Service, The Environment Agency, Sustrans, Girl Guiding, Defence, and The Digital Democracy Commission came together with the Parliament outreach team to discuss and brainstorm how social media can be used to engage people with Parliament. It was a rather eclectic bunch of people all bound together by our enthusiasm for connecting in social spaces.


ptc1I have to say that at first I was quite nervous and quite intimidated (just getting through The Palace of Westminster’s security is scary enough, let alone being directed to walk past David Cameron and head for Tony Blair … My simple brain was looking around for the politicians in question when in fact the man on reception meant paintings !!! Anyway I am diversifying, there I was feeling a little in awe and the first #ParliTeaCamp seemed to fly by in an heart beat with no real time for me to reflect or think.   However this week saw the second meeting of #ParliTeaCamp and I really started to see the point and the possibilities of people connecting and feeling empowered to connect with Parliament especially a community very close to my heart – the nurse community.  I even felt comfortable enough to send a few tweets about our discussions.


My journey so far has taught me that being able to engage and discuss things with Parliament not only gives me a greater understanding but could also potentially help the nursing voice to be heard.  Talking is always good but knowing that parliament are listening and wanting to engage with people…..with nurses….. is something that really does get my mind buzzing with possibilities.

#ParliTeaCamp is one small group but  I am now very much in mind of what Margaret Mead once said :


So if you see me tweeting #ParliTeaCamp please tweet along and join in because I would really love you to be there with me.

Halfway there

I can’t believe that I am now over halfway through the NHS Leadership Academy Seacole Programme ! Time really does fly and what at the start of the programme seemed insurmountable (particularly the 12 hours of study a week) now seems commonplace.  I have learnt so much but can also see I still have such a long way to go.

Last weeks tutorial was a great opportunity to reflect with my fellow students about what we have found useful so far and apply the theory we have been reading about to practice. One of the biggest realisations during this reflection for me is that not all theory fits practice (yes I know no great revelation there!) and that this is ok! Sometimes the theory is useful in practice, sometimes it isn’t, sometimes it’s partially useful and sometimes it leads to more thinking. I wrote a blog a few weeks back about being a square peg and I found out last week that it’s quite normal to be a square peg …. Phew !

mspWe also took some time out to discuss our leadership initiatives – which I have to admit to be struggling with of late. I feel that with my leadership initiative I have opened up a real can of worms! Each line of inquiry has lead to more thinking and realisation that more will need to be done – I have found myself loosing focus on the exact task in hand ! Talking about my initiative with my fellow students has really refocused me and it is now clear what I need to do – I even came home and created a focused mind map and pinned it on my wall so I can remain focused.  There is no doubt that my initiative is just the start of the journey and it will grow and develop as momentum grows but it’s important to not bite off more than I can chew and to have a realistic goal in sight.

So six months in and I have to ask myself the question “Is the Seacole Programme worthwhile?” There can be no doubt that it’s hard work, that it makes me tear my hair out at times, that the essays are the bane of my life BUT what I am learning is of enormous value and it is giving me the confidence and skills to lead.

At risk of falls

I am not sure how many times in my nursing career I have written Mrs Y is at risk of falls because of reduced mobility due to X,Y or Z but I am pretty sure that it must run into the thousands, however they do say until you walk a mile in another mans shoes (or not as the case may be here) you can never really understand anything from another persons perspective.  Well how right “they” were !!

holeAbout 10 days ago now I was rushing around in the garden when I had the misfortune to stumble and fall.  Now please don’t laugh but I fell over a hole that had been filled in … my husband had dug a large hole in the garden which whilst it was a hole was perfectly safe in a “I’m a large hole and its obvious” sort of way, but once the hole was filled in it seems that the uneven ground was less obvious to me ! My foot twisted and the pain was immediate and quite intense.  With some drama (involving neighbours peering over fences and said husband attempting a rescue) I managed to get inside, and my ankle started to swell to the size of an orange and the pain was just awful…. We decided that a trip to the minor injuries unit was definitely in order.  To cut what is turning out to be a long story short (apologies I will get to the point soon!) I hadn’t broken my ankle it was just a sprain, of course I say just but the reality was that this would effect my life for a good few weeks to come.

teaThey say that nurses make the worst patients and I have to say that for the first two days when all I could do was sit with my foot up I was the worst patient ever! The pain made me grumpy, the lack of exercise made me fidgety, nobody seemed to understand just how many cups of tea I need in a day and most of all I was really quite cross with myself for letting it happen in the first place.  As we only have an upstairs loo this made things even more tricky and I started to really realise how even a small deterioration in mobility can not only place someone at high risk of falls but also effect them in every way.

shoesAs I started to recover my cross feelings were replaced by sheer belligerence and I became the uncompliant patient.  Having several events to go to I was determined to wear heels and I stubbornly refused to listen to anyone who said I shouldn’t.  Yes this did cause me some pain, I did put myself at greater risk of falls and I did end up with a very swollen foot at the end of the night, but looking back would I have changed anything I did? The answer is a resounding NO! Wearing heels put me back in control, it made me feel normal again, it helped me get back to being me and this was important.

This may seem to be a bit of a silly story but this chain of events made me reflect greatly on “reduced mobility” and how we sometimes miss the real implications of this.  Loss of mobility can affect a persons whole life, it can make them cross, grumpy, difficult and uncompliant and as a nurse I need to remember this and work with the people I care for to develop a way forward that works for them.

As for me I am now being a little more complaint and am sat with my foot up writing this …. But also considering if tomorrow is too soon to get back on my exercise bike ;)

What if …

What if we were able to listen to all those conversations about us without us?

What if we could not only listen to those conversations but collate them & look for trends ?

What if we could talk with people beyond silos and hierarchies ?

What if we could share information on a global scale ?

What if we could connect with people like us and share projects, resources and ideas?

What if we had a handy pocket sized device that enabled us to do this at the touch of a button?

What if we could use clinicians and patient experience to feed into practice turning evidence based practice on its head to create practice based evidence?

What if the latest evidence and thinking was freely available ?

What if the latest evidence and thinking meant current evidence and thinking not please wait 6 months whilst we peer review it?

What if healthcare organisations valued staff and showed this through engagement ?

What if healthcare organisations valued patients and carers and showed this through engagement ?

What if we were proactive in healthcare engagement not just reactive?

What if we could search for information by just asking our peers ?

What would we do if we could do all this ?

We could call it innovation ?



All of this is possible and most of this is happening …….

……what if we were brave enough to embrace it ?

We could change healthcare